- Many people are spending the holidays alone this year and could use a meaningful gesture.
- Simple and authentic acknowledgements go a long way.
- Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note.
For many, this year’s holiday season looks wildly different than in years past. Across the country, people are opting to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some might even be alone for the holidays.
It’s always important to stay connected with clients, and typically, the holiday season provides another opportunity to really home in on that personal connection with customers. This year more than ever, those connections matter and have the power to bring joy and comfort.
Making the effort doesn’t have to be extravagant to be meaningful. Something as simple as a quick message on social media can make the difference, according to CPA Practice Advisor. The site suggests personalizing the content put out on social media channels and newsletters by highlighting clients and agents with blurbs and photos.
CPA Practice Advisor also suggests the simple yet effective gesture of mailing a holiday or New Year’s card with a handwritten note.
For many brokers and agents, adding in a little extra connection during the holidays has been a longstanding practice, and this year, they are finding new ways to engage with clients.
DeAnn Golden, senior vice president and regional manager of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties in Roswell, Ga., says her agents are finding a myriad of ways to connect within the community, from food drives to raising money for Sunshine Kids, a non-profit that supports children with cancer.
But her agents are also looking for the everyday ways they can connect with clients.
“One of the things we realized as connectors in the community is that we spend our days in normal times welcoming people to the neighborhood and the fiber of the community,” she says. But with many interactions taking place on a virtual platform, that normal welcome isn’t really an option right now.
Instead, her agents are making phone calls, reaching out to past clients, and checking in—especially those who might live or be alone most of the time.
“We’re not calling them to try to buy or sell a home. We’re calling them to let them know we care. Beyond the transaction, we care about their livelihood and their well-being,” she says.
This year, Cole Slate, broker-owner of Slate Real Estate in Northeast Florida, will be holding a virtual Tacky Sweater Happy Hour in place of his firm’s usual festivities, which involved him in a Santa suit and a smattering of staff and clients in tacky sweaters. He and his team have also hosted a Thanksgiving pie delivery for the past three years.
Connecting with clients is just as important as ever, Slate says, even if it won’t look like it has in previous years.
“Our business is 100% created from relationships,” he says. “We’re all about showing appreciation and it’s important to maximize these opportunities.”
For Jill Penman, Global Real Estate Advisor with ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in Miami, gift-giving is one of her personal favorite parts of the holiday season. Adding in a special touch for the holidays has been a part of her business model for the past 17 years.
This year, she and her team are going door-to-door, dropping gifts off right on clients’ doorsteps. Penman doesn’t just focus on buyers and sellers though— she also includes her rental clients.
“Most of my clients purchase a home or condo with a swimming pool so I monogram Turkish white towels that double as lounge chair covers—typically five as a set—with the address of the property they purchased on the towels,” she says. “For my clients who rent, the monogram is customized with their last name.”
In Texas, Robbie Briggs, president and CEO of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s Realty really wanted to capitalize on holiday tradition. He pooled his agents’ most cherished holiday recipes together and created a full-color, 140-page cookbook.
Briggs says this year, putting the focus on home is more important than ever.
“We figured out a way to connect with people right in the heart of their home: the kitchen,” he says. “The cookbook has really resonated with everyone, because the recipes have been loved by the agents and their friends and families, and the agents are having such fun giving them to people they care about and are thankful for.”
Brokerage-wide, agents purchased hundreds of copies of the cookbook to give to their clients.
Briggs also says his agents are each putting their own special touch on the holiday season, with many of them coming up with something new and creative this year. One agent who usually orders personalized Christmas tree ornaments and then drops them off to her clients is still giving out those ornaments, only this year she’s wrapping them up in decorative boxes and dropping them off on doorsteps to keep everyone safe.
Another agent is dropping off a sprig of mistletoe tied with a ribbon, and a card that says, “Let’s kiss 2020 goodbye,” Briggs says. “Her clients are loving it.”
Connecting with clients shouldn’t just be limited to the holidays. In an industry where referrals and a personal touch is everything, it’s important to find meaningful ways to stay top of mind year-round.
But the holidays this year are a poignant time to let clients know they are appreciated. The way in which a broker or agent reaches out is less important than the act of reaching out itself, as long as there’s authenticity and heart behind it.